He attended school in Weldona and Brush before moving to Fort Collins in 1936, when his father bought the Dodge dealership and founded Markley Motors. Gene graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1940. During high school he ran track, played the coronet in a jazz band and worked as a paper carrier for the Express-Courier, now the Coloradoan.
Gene entered Colorado A&M (CSU) in 1940. He was the junior class president, a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and a member of ROTC. Gene’s college education was interrupted when he went on active duty in the U. S. Army in April of 1943. After basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he returned to Colorado A&M for one quarter. It was during that time he married the love of his life, Patricia Chandler, on Oct. 30, 1943. Six months later Gene graduated from Officer’s Training School in December of 1944, and was on the Queen Mary heading for Europe, where he went into action in Belgium near Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge. Gene was a forward observer and soon promoted to battalion reconnaissance and survey officer as First Lieutenant. He valued his Army experience and stated, “I learned how to get along with my fellow man, how to treat others, and how to take care of myself.”
After World War II, Gene returned to complete his Civil Engineering degree at Colorado A&M. After graduation, he and his wife Pat moved to Montana where he was a superintendent trainee building highways with Peter Kiewit Construction. Later they returned to Fort Collins to co-establish the first concrete ready-mix company in the city. In 1950, Gene joined his father in the automobile business and later sold the concrete business. His brother Bob later joined the partnership and in 1959 they expanded the Dodge dealership through a purchase of a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Gene and his brother Bob were partners in the business until 1968, when Bob moved to Greeley to open a VW dealership, and in the same year Gene’s son, Doug, joined the company. Outgrowing their location on North College, they moved to South College in 1973, and a year later secured the Honda franchise. In 1979, they stopped selling the Chrysler line and obtained the Buick, Pontiac, and GMC Truck franchises. Gene was passionate about the automobile business and experienced success through integrity, honesty and respect. When asked about the best lesson he learned on the job his answer was, “How to respect a job, from sweeping the floors on up.” When asked how he measured success he answered, “Being respected at what you do by both peers and employees.” And when asked what he valued he answered, “Honesty. I never tolerated dishonesty at my dealership.”
Gene was also committed to philanthropy, improving the community through donations of time and money. He often said that you spend the first 20 years of life “taking from” society, and you should spend the rest of your life “giving back” to society. Gene’s volunteer positions included serving on the Poudre School Board, the Poudre Valley Hospital Board of Trustees, and the Poudre Valley Hospital Foundation Board. He was a member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club since 1949 and served as past president. Gene also served as past president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber Of Commerce, and past president of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association. Gene was the recipient of many awards including: the Time Magazine Dealer Quality Award; Hope Award from the Multiple Sclerosis Society; Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau; Distinguished Athletic Award from CSU; Northern Colorado Community Foundation’s Founders Award; Bravo Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award; and the CSU Alumni Association Outstanding Recognition Award. Gene was passionate about family and friends and was an avid CSU Booster and intense Bronco fan. He loved to travel and especially loved his timeshares in Cancun, Mexico. His condo in Dillon was a favorite place where he enjoyed family and friends, biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Only because of a weak ankle did he give up skiing when he was 81.
Gene attended the Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins during his younger years and had fond memories of his Sunday school days there. He and his wife, Pat, joined St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Collins around 1950 and were long-time members of that congregation. Gene and Pat were married for 63 years before she passed away in 2006.
He is survived by his son Doug (Cathy) Markley of Timnath; daughter Ann (Dick) Hanson of Loveland; grandchildren Cindy (Gregg) Degroot of Windsor, Carrie (Eric) Baumgart of Timnath, Justin Markley of Fort Collins, Brian (Christie) Hanson of Arvada, Jason (Allyson) Hanson of Loveland, Amy (Craig) Maddox of Timnath; 12 great-grandchildren; and his brother Bob Markley of Greeley.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 2000 Stover St., Fort Collins, followed by a reception at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Rotary Club of Fort Collins-Charities Fund, CSU Foundation – Ram Club, or the PVH and MCR Foundation, in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 650 West Drake Road, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook and leave a personal note to the family at www.allnutt.com.
Published in The Coloradoan March 17-19, 2017